Flora of SMC Goes Word Wide Web

 

Living here at Shambhala Mountain Center, I see thousands of new faces each year — people who are coming to live here, or are else visiting for the day or staying for a retreat. Although it may be impossible to form substantial relationships with all of these people, a good place to start is to exchange names.

“Hello, I’m Travis.”

In my experience, learning someone’s name is an acknowledgement of shared connection that rapidly opens up the possibility of greater familiarization and friendship.

And so it is with the flora of the land, which is why we’re so thrilled with the recent online publishing of an ongoing research project that has been occurring here since 2014 in which Renee Galeano-Popp — a close neighbor of SMC — has been identifying and photographing the myriad plant specimens that live here on the land.

Click here to check out SMC’s page on the Intermountain Region Herbarium Network website.

 

I learned that this is a bluebell (Campanula rotundifolia) by looking it up in the online guide.

So far, Galeano-Popp has documented 305 species from 62 different plant families. For people who have spent some time here, some entries may be more familiar than others. In the online handbook you’ll find summertime floral favorites like the Rocky Mountain iris and spreadfruit goldenbanner, big friends like the douglas fir, as well as some more obscure (and oddly named) specimens like the starry false lily of the valley, the beautiful fleabane, and… scrambled eggs!

Of course, the binomial name is listed alongside the common name (when available) for each entry, as well as alternate names, photos, and a wealth of additional information.

We hope that SMC regulars as well as those who plan to visit the land someday will find this guide to be useful, and that it may allow you to make lots of friends while you’re here — whether you encounter other humans or not.

~~~

PortraitTravis Newbill is a writer, musician, and aspirant on the path of meditation.  He currently resides at Shambhala Mountain Center, where he serves in the roles of Marketing Associate and Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

An Unplanned Symphony: the Rhythms of Our Living Earth, Part 1

By Martin Ogle

Shambhala Mountain Center hosts Gaia: Engaging the Rhythms of Our Living Earth with Martin Ogle, September 11-13, 2015 — click here to learn more

To me, time is one of the most basic and profound ways we humans fit in with—and estrange ourselves from—the rest of Nature. Because of our intense awareness of the future and our ability to abstractly place ourselves there, we are blessed with unique abilities and also uniquely cursed with worry, the inability to enjoy the present, and a host of other related mental burdens. In a story called “The Shear Pin” (from my book In the Eye of the Hawk), I muse about our ability and need to inhabit two worlds of time: the “here and now” of the pre-human (and non-human) world as well as our abstracted, human worlds of past and future.

The following excerpt from “The Shear Pin” finds me stranded in the wide waters of the Bush River and Chesapeake Bay during my duties as an eagle researcher. I am on a small boat whose propeller has struck a hard object and come to a stop. The shear pin—a small, metal piece designed to break when the propeller hits an object that would otherwise damage the engine—has, indeed, broken and I’ve found that there are no spares in the boat. After several minutes of great frustration at being delayed from my work and feeling that my time was being wasted, I begin to settle in to a different time scale. The story concludes in the next blog post (coming soon) with additional thoughts on the rhythms of our living earth.

* The following is excerpted from In the Eye of the Hawk by Martin Ogle, 2012 

The to-and-fro of a boat on the waves and the feeling of wind on the face have the ability to speak if one listens. The slow, constant arc of the sun and the unpredictable billowing of clouds are part of this language. The cries of birds and popping sounds of fish at the surface, and the deep, underlying silence . . . The language speaks in terms of everything and in terms of nothing. It demands to be heard by all of Life, and yet it is all of Life, and has not a care. It is an unplanned symphony. The pastel pinks and oranges, ghost-like forms far off in the mist, tension and release – they all have the ability to speak if one listens. But rarely do we listen. Rarely do we afford ourselves the opportunity to listen. We are in a hurry, caught up in a wave of time.

The wind gusts came and went, producing a rhythm of waves lapping against the hull of the boat. Faster, then slower, faster, then slower. My breathing followed suit and a little later, my mind sensed a connection. The Chesapeake was breathing! Its breath flowed in and out of the river, capturing and controlling my breath, until I thought about it. The treetops, ablaze with sunlight, distracted me, and my breathing returned to the rhythm of the wind. My mind recalled bright, fiery scenes of a mountain forest ablaze with fire, not sunlight. Water lapping against the boat doused the memory. Faster, then slower, faster, then slower—the Chesapeake was breathing! It was alive! Subconsciously, I rejoiced and reveled in the possibility. Time disappeared.

Late Field

The language of the earth is like fresh water to a person lost on the salty sea. A long draw on the canteen is a pleasurable release from the powerful thirst that beckons. But, in time, the water, laden with other elements of our bodies, flows back out and is used by the rest of Life. Likewise, the fast-flowing rivers meet the tide and circulate, eventually becoming one with the ocean. Does the Bay experience pleasure? Does it have a thirst? Earth speaks with timelessness; there is movement and there is change, but in ever-recurring moments. Rivers flow and the clouds form in a never-ending cycle of ever-recurring moments. The self-awareness that produces knowledge of time is a tangent to the circular language of the earth. Timelessness creates an unplanned symphony; self-awareness writes one for orchestra and soloist.

Time had disappeared as had my self-awareness. My body was adrift on a river of water and my mind on a river of unconsciousness flowing directly from the earth itself. It was like being in a dream where you realize the dream, but haven’t identified yourself as the dreamer. I enjoyed Life as I unconsciously joined with it. The sunshine came and went, highlighting the waves, the veins on my hands, and the texture of the floor of the boat. And then from the floor of the boat came a tiny, shiny reflection that burned itself into my mind, and everything changed.

To be continued…

Join Martin Ogle for a weekend retreat — Gaia: Engaging the Rhythms of Our Living Earth, September 11-13, 2015 at SMC — click here to learn more

~~~

Martin-OgleMartin Ogle holds degrees in Wildlife Biology from Colorado State and Virginia Tech. He was Chief Naturalist for the No. Virginia Regional Park Authority 1985 – 2012. He received the 2010 Krupsaw Award for Non-Traditional Teaching – The annual award of the Washington Academy of Sciences for outstanding teaching in informal and non-academic settings. Mr. Ogle promotes a widespread understanding of the Gaia Paradigm through his workshops, programs and writings. He and his family moved to Louisville, CO in 2012 where he started Entrepreneurial Earth, LLC. Mr. Ogle was born and raised much of his younger life in South Korea.

Interview: Waking Up to the Wild with Kay Peterson

 

Shambhala Mountain Center hosts Waking up to the Wild: Mindful Hiking with Kay Peterson, July 24-27 — click here to learn more

Like trees in the forest or fish in the sea, we have an innate ability to live in greater harmony with our environment. While trying to navigate our busy, high-tech world, we can develop habits of mind that leave us feeling disconnected and unfulfilled. Delving deeply into the practice of mindfulness/awareness in nature, we turn our attention toward the subtle interplay of our thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, and sense perceptions and rediscover how we can open to our fundamental interconnection to all things. Rather than always needing to change where we work, live, or who we love, we can change our relationship to these aspects of our lives in a way that brings us greater happiness and contentment.

Next month, psychotherapist, wilderness guide, and Shambhala meditation instructor Kay Peterson will be leading a wonderfully nourishing retreat here in the powerful natural environment of Shambhala Mountain Center.  Recently, Kay took some time to discuss the importance of tapping into the natural world, and how doing so can benefit our daily lives.

Enjoy this interview below, and to learn more about the upcoming retreat, please follow the links at the top of this article.

~~~

KayPetersonKay Peterson, MA, MFT Intern, is a psychotherapist, wilderness guide, and Shambhala meditation instructor. She has been facilitating nature-inspired programs focused on individual transformation, creative group processes, and mindfulness since 1996. Kay also teaches Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and is adjunct faculty at Naropa University.

Floral Notes and Bardo: Never See That Buddha Again?

By Travis Newbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a regular feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

Genius anyway…

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I woke up on Friday and enjoyed a lovely birthday — time with Heather in the morning, then beautiful Stupa session, lots of prayers for a good year ahead, lovely lunch outside, fun and games and art, surprises and hugs from the community, and finally a vegan ice cream Sunday, candles and gifts, tasty beer, at home with Heather to finish the evening.

Heather makes birthday cards for all community members when their days come around and generally promotes celebration of all possible holidays.  So, for my birthday, I was in very good hands.  Grateful.

Saturday, I was sitting on a bench downtown having some tea, gazing up at Red Feather peak to the west and decided that I could go up there if I wanted.  So I stood up and went.  I was wearing slip on shoes.

The climb was pretty steep at times, and I ended up on a big boulder that I will probably never touch again.  I had a conversation with the forest.  A wonderful view of the land, and behind me, a little cave.  I placed a Buddha statue that ended up in my pocket earlier in the day.  I’ll probably never see that Buddha again.

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On the way back down my knees felt week, and I felt older than I used to.  I’m thirty-two as of the day before the climb.  I sang and felt joyful anyway.  Maybe joyful because of the inevitable disintegration of my body… but not right now!

I went back to the nest, had some hot tea and did some reading — Born in Tibet.  I’m feeling inspired by reading about Trungpa’s life in Tibet — how strict his training was, how intense his training.

Acharya Lobel told me what to do while I’m here: “Train.”

It’s been feeling good leaning into that a bit more.

— December 15, 2014

~~~

PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious dude on the path of artistry, meditation, and social engagement who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center.  His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Shambhala Guide — a preliminary teaching position.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: Truly… Hug Trees

By Travis Newbill

Floral Notes and Bardo: The Creative Chronicles of a Shambhala Mountain Resident is a daily feature on the SMC blog in which a member of our staff/community shares his experience of existing as part of Shambhala Mountain Center.

(Notes from the Four Seasons Program: Exploring Trees and Wildflowers)

I hung out with plants all weekend.

10517504_759949517404968_5577312332589050759_nPhoto by Jim Tolstrup

And Jim

In the meadows and wetlands
On the northern and southern slopes
Beneath my feet
around my house

Dating back ages…

A whole world of vibrant, fluid life in the form of plants:
ancient trees
wildflowers, brief

I met a lot
learned their names, and a bit about them
New friends!
All over the place!

There is one version of the world on the TV news
There is another version of the world in the forest, meadows, wetlands
on the southern and northern slopes

This experience is always available:
Lay on my back, face towards the sun
pretend to be a flower

The wood laying around on the ground is old:
Maybe several hundred years

The oldest living tree on the land is over 700 years old
It is vibrating with wisdom

The world of human drama is one world

~~~

I live with humans, plants, rocks, animals, wind, water…

— July 21, 2014

~~~

PortraitTravis Newbill is a curious dude on the path of artistry, meditation, and social engagement who is very glad to be residing at Shambhala Mountain Center.  His roles within the organization include Marketing Associate and Head Dekyong–a position of leadership within the community.  Follow Travis on twitter: @travisnewbill

The Willow is a Wonderful Host

By Richard Swaback

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The green-red fruit-like looking structure on this willow (Salix spp.),located on the edge of Lake Sunyata, is a gall (abnormal outgrowth of plant tissue) produced in concert with the sawfly (Pontania s-pomum).

In the spring a female inserts and egg that induces galling into leaf tissue. The leaf produces a gall which is bean-shaped, smooth and emerges equally on both sides of the leaf. the gall may be green, red or yellow. A single larva feeds in the cavity of each gall. (Nyman et al 2000: 526-533)

Above the sawfly gall is a cabbage-like looking structure…yes that is also a gall…produced by the Willow Cabbage Gall Midge (Rabdophaga salicisbrassicoides).

“I mean really…”

“Learning is any change in a system that produces a more or less permanent change in its capacity for adapting to its environment.”  –  Herbert A. Simon

Wake up to the Wild (the Wildly Good!)

By Kay Peterson

Kay Peterson will be leading Mindful Hiking: Waking Up to the Wild, July 31–August 3; and Waking Up to the Wild: Nature Walks, September 12–14.

As this spring unfolds, I’m struck by the environmental and social changes happening world-wide.  It feels like each of us is being called to search deep inside and decide how we’re going to take better care of ourselves, each other, and the earth.

The combination of mindfulness-awareness practice with time in nature is the proverbial one-two punch for our health and well-being as well as for our ability to live in harmony with each other and the planet.  Nature provides valuable lessons for how we can live our lives in healthy balance if we pay attention to them.  When we synchronize our bodies and mind in nature with mindfulness practices, we develop a deeper understanding of that balance.  We can train ourselves to continue to open to a bigger perspective and that state of openness, vitality, and potential that exists within all of us.

We’re making technological advancements faster than we can imagine, yet getting through the day seems to be becoming more and more of a struggle.  As a culture, it seems that we’ve come to a phase where we’re often engaging in activity for the sake of activity.  Many of us are working most all the time and find ourselves engaged in frenetic activity like it’s somehow necessary to legitimize our existence.  In many office environments it’s a competition to see who’s the last one to leave at the end of the day.  Suddenly we’re working 12-14 hour days with little to no mandated vacation and we wonder why we’re so stressed-out.  We’ve forgotten how to simply live.

SMC The Land O'Hern - Print7Photo by Karen O’Hern

We all possess a basic goodness.  It’s not something that we have to get from outside ourselves or that is only achievable once we’ve worked a certain number of hours or demonstrated a certain skill or attribute.  It’s who we already are – basically (or unconditionally) good.  When we shift our perspective from a focus on problems to seeing the solutions that already exist, we come to trust that basic goodness in ourselves, each other, and our society.  Then we naturally know how to take the best care of ourselves and when, where, and how to best lend a helping hand.

From time to time in my busy urban life, I come to a place where I feel a general dis-ease.  I can’t quite put my finger on a particular reason why and I’m confused about what to do.  I’m in the habit of looking for problems in my environment and not noticing what’s right in my life.  I feel kind of  “off” and I know I’m not alone.  We have become what John Muir described as “tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people.”  The good news is that our “medicine” is waiting for us in nature.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto by Greg Smith

Psychological research in recent decades suggests that spending time in nature improves cognition, relieves anxiety and depression, and even boosts empathy.  It certainly helps, but it’s actually not enough to just exercise outside.  Many of us go out with an iPod or phone attached to our arm or spend most of our time there rehashing the day at work and/or strategies for the future of a budding romance or how to get our kids to clean their room.  Like me, have you ever planned a wonderful hike and spent days looking forward to it’s reality only to find yourself a mile down the trail before you finally realize where you are?  This is where mindfulness meditation helps us to strengthen our ability to fully be where we are, to actually fully inhabit our bodies, and to let our senses wake us up and our hearts soften.

We can make it part of our essential routine to disconnect from the screens and the “treadmill” of our daily lives and venture into the wild.  Even for me here in the heart of Oakland, that doesn’t take more than a 15-minute bike ride into a park in the hills to really feel the fresh air and sunshine on my face.  I can simply let myself be and in doing so remind myself that I am enough as is.  It really is that simple.  Coming together to practice “waking up in the wild” as a group is an excellent way to affirm this commitment to our basic well-being and to create positive change for our collective future.

Join me this summer for another opportunity to wake up to the wild (the wildly good!) both outside and in.  Bring a family member or friend.  Let’s slow down, step outside, look up, let go of the push to be somewhere other than where we are, and appreciate the richness that’s already here.

Kay Peterson

Kay Peterson

Kay Peterson will be leading Mindful Hiking: Waking Up to the Wild, July 31–August 3; and Waking Up to the Wild: Nature Walks, September 12–14.  To learn more and to register, please click here and here.

Spring at 8,000 Feet

by Jared Leveille

Jared Leveille is the Land Steward of Shambhala Mountain Center.  

Photo by Greg Smith

The invigorating quality of spring is making itself evident throughout the land. Bright green grasses and many-hued wildflowers are breaking through last year’s decay, birds are calling for the rising sun, and the creeks are full with the rush476102_10150631565777304_1792262271_o (1) of snowmelt. We all feel the season brimming with possibility and renewal. I heard the first rumble of thunder a moment ago, off a ways, and listen as it reverberates across the valley– speaking a promise of rain, which is so precious in this arid climate. There is a tingling in my skin as I breathe the crisp air in the fading light.

My first few land crew volunteers have arrived, and I love experiencing our mountain valley anew through their fresh eyes. We have a lot of projects to work on, but know how precious it is to have the opportunity to really get our hands dirty– to touch the earth.

PasqualFlowersI encourage you to visit the land stewardship’s new Facebook page – Shambhala Mountain- Friends of the Land. With it, I’ll try to keep everyone up to speed on things I’m working on, share some of the beauty I come across during my days, post a daily picture of the land, and perhaps, at times, ask for support and help with particular projects. It is not possible for a single person to properly steward the land. Expanding awareness can help us all play a part in the protection of this fragile environment. We can foster a deeper sense of community through recognizing we are not separate from the spring’s emergence, from the urgency of change–and that the earth is indeed a part of us.

Some springtime inspired listening…

 

Top photo by Greg Smith

Bottom photo by Paul Bennett

Rediscovering the Place of Nature

By Martin Ogle

Martin Ogle recently lead  the weekend program”Engaging the Rhythms of our Living Earth” and is one of the main organizers of the Four Seasons Program.

Martin Ogle

Martin Ogle

The weekend retreat, “Engaging the Rhythms of our Living Earth,” was a delightful experience for me.  It not only provided the opportunity to share ideas of profound interest to me, but also to learn from the perspectives of a marvelous group of participants and from the land and history of Shambhala Mountain Center:  A long-time Shambalian and genetics professor offered insights into the synergy of science and spirituality.  Artists and poets shared moving reflections on the beauty and mystery of the land.  And, the symbolism of the Great Stupa blended seamlessly with our inquiry into how our human lives can be in synchronicity or discord with the rhythms of nature.  I believe these insights – and the retreat’s purpose of re-discovering the pace of Nature in scientific, spiritual and mindful ways – set a marvelous foundation for SMC’s Four Seasons Program.

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Photo by Greg Smith

The name,”Four Seasons Program,” itself, provides powerful links between exploring and celebrating the land of SMC and the ongoing inquiry into the nature of the human mind.  The circle and four directions motif, found in the Buddhist Mandala (and Stupa), is a universal symbol that reflects our human relationship to Earth and the Universe.  The labrynths of the British Isles, the Hopi Earth Mother symbol and Zia Sun Symbol are other examples.  There is a real need for the traditional lessons of basic goodness and mindfulness that SMC has provided for decades.  Couched in the context of our human relationship to our living planet, these lessons take on even greater significance. ​

To learn more about the Four Seasons Program and view some upcoming retreats in this series, please click here.

Deepening Our Connection: SMC’s Land Steward on the Four Seasons Program

By Jared Leveille

Jared Leveille is the Land Steward of Shambhala Mountain Center.  

Jared Leveille

Jared Leveille

2014 is an exciting year for environmentally based programming, and it got off to a great start in March with Martin Ogle‘s program “Gaia: Engaging the Rhythms of our Living Earth“.  As a participant of the weekend, I was thrilled to help engage the group in closer observation of the land as we explored storytelling, solo observation points in nature, art, symbology and journaling.  The Gaia Theory- which describes the earth as a single living system depending upon a myriad of contributory relationships, interactions and processes shares an interesting common thread with a major tenet of Buddhist philosophy- interdependence- which surmises that all phenomena, human life included, exists in mutual dependence upon one another.  Among the group were scientists, educators, environmentalists and nature lovers and each one of us had something important and relevant to share over the weekend, which seemed to support the ideas we were delving into.

Exploring Trees and Wildflowers‘, our next program in the Four Seasons series, will be held in June and will be hosted by a trio of teachers who each have a unique and profound connection to the natural world.  This program will have more of a bioregional flair, and we will be examining plant communities that flourish here on our 700 acre property, as well as learning about some of their cultural and historical uses.

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Photo by Greg Smith

In developing a series of environmental programs here at Shambhala Mountain Center, we hope to rekindle a sense of respect and reverence for the earth, as well as renew the delight and freshness we feel when we can deepen our connection and understanding.  When I am out on the land, everything I encounter, whether it be a newly emerged wildflower, a rushing creek, or a dead pine tree, is a teaching.  Before we can help our world, first we all must find ways to develop a more profound relationship, a kinship, with the natural environment.  Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche joyfully reminds us – “Look.  This is your world!  You can’t not look.  There is no other world.  This is your world; it is your feast.  You inherited this; you inherited these eyeballs; you inherited this world of color.  Look at the greatness of the whole thing.  Look!  Don’t hesitate – look!  Open your eyes.  Don’t blink, and look, look – look further.”

To learn more about the SMC land, and keep up with what the natural world is up to, follow Jared’s Friends of the Land page on Facebook.